Dr. Harold Rhode, a Mideast scholar and former adviser in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Pentagon, recently penned, “Misunderstanding Iran,” an insightful essay at the Jewish Policy Council that offered a sobering analysis of why we in the U.S. and the West more generally so often, so badly misunderstand the Iranian regime.

In short, it’s a tendency to mirror image our own cultural premises, expecting that other, very different cultures share our way of thinking about things.

They don’t.

In the case of Iran, the most mistaken impression is that the Islamic Republic’s regime wants a “balanced” policy with its regional neighbors, with us, with anyone.

Too often, our national security leadership reaches for Judeo-Christian-based principles like compromise, concessions, letting bygones be bygones, and negotiating through differences.

As Rhode explains, however, this is not how people in the Mideast think, or behave.

For many of them, including the Iranian regime leadership, it’s all about preserving honor and avoiding shame in an all-out “winner-takes-all” battle for total supremacy.

Ronald Reagan got this with his policy toward the Soviet Union: “We win, they lose.”

Now, let’s apply that trenchant insight to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

We often hear Chinese leader Xi Jinping mouth bland platitudes that in English sound smoothly soothing.

Things like “a community of shared future” or “a common destiny for mankind” sound nicely synchronous with our own Western objectives.

But as with our approach to the supremacist mindset of the Iranian regime, dismissing such bromides comes at our peril.

Like the ideology of Iran’s regime, Beijing’s in fact also aims to conquer the West, which means first destroying the United States of America.

Our failure to understand this already has brought us to a dangerous pass.

To address these gaps in our cultural understanding, the Washington, D.C.-based Hudson Institute published an excellent study, “‘Win Without Fighting’: The Chinese Communist Party’s Political and Institutional Warfare Against the West” in May 2022 that provides us an analytical adjustment to the way we deal with China in much the same vein as Harold Rhode’s essay on Iran.

The CCP approach to international affairs arises from millennia of military philosophy. Sun Tzu’s fifth century BCE “Art of War” is the classic Chinese manual of warfare that guides CCP leaders to this day.

“Unrestricted Warfare” is the more recent military manual of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that itself is grounded in Sun Tzu.

As the title of the Hudson paper reminds us, the Chinese military philosophy begins with a strategy that defeats the enemy without ever actually going to war.

In fact, we need to think about that military philosophy as an all-encompassing warfare that extends the battlefield far beyond the planes, ships, tanks, and troops that pervade Western military academy curricula.

If we of the liberal Western free world are to prevail against the tyranny of either China or Iran, we must extend our thinking far beyond such traditional notions.

In the case of the CCP, it believes it is the rightful hegemon of the entire world, whose more-or-less established order it firmly believes itself capable of and justified in completely overthrowing.

This is why the two PLA colonels, whose Master’s degree thesis “Unrestricted Warfare” was, dismiss America and our military as “naturally inadequately prepared to deal with this type of enemy psychologically . . . “.

The book includes a list of military domains that runs to some two dozen, including bio-chemical warfare, psychological warfare, drug warfare, media warfare, and ideological warfare.

Without taking these areas into account, we of the west remain ill-equipped to counter the full-spectrum sophistication of the CCP’s assault against us.

Battlefield domains like the above do not replace the PLA’s rapidly modernizing threat, but rather prepare the ultimately kinetic battlefield for it.

Our first step must be to understand the CCP mindset, which is based on an implacable resolve to destroy liberal Western-style government by consent of the governed with individual liberty and the freedoms of our Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights.

The CCP model instead is based on centralized government authority that imposes its version of societal order from above.

To this end, the CCP has already infiltrated and often co-opted most of America’s societal institutions.

Academia, entertainment, government at every level, industry, media/social media, public health, and sports have all been suborned to some extent.

The objective is to so weaken the Foundational principles of our Republic that authoritarian, centralized repression and control come to be seen and accepted as preferable to the hard work of defending those principles.

Next, we need the leadership at every level of American society to summon the determination to fight back and purge our system of the CCP’s insidious communist/Marxist ideological influence.

We must inform ourselves about that ideological influence as thoroughly as the CCP has studied the philosophical underpinnings of our own civilization.

Only knowing and understanding how the CCP fights — and studying the undeniable weaknesses of its world view — will equip us with the wherewithal we need to fight back.

We of the free world must have the confidence in our own principles that will inspire us to reject the CCP’s model of tyranny that crushes the human spirit.


This column was published at Newsmax

The views expressed in CCNS member articles are not necessarily the views or positions of the entire CCNS. They are the views of the authors, who are members of the CCNS.

© 2024 Citizens Commission on National Security

© 2024 Citizens Commission on National Security